South African held captive for almost six years
South African Stephen Malcolm McGown has been released from Timbuktu, Mali, where he was been held by al-Qaeda militants since November 2011, International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane announced on Thursday.
“He has been kept in captivity since then. The family, the government, all the people of South Africa and the international community has since been campaigning for his release. We are happy to announce that finally these efforts have culminated in Mr McGown’s release on the 29th of July 2017,” Nkoana-Mashabane said at a media briefing in Pretoria.
“We would like to warmly welcome him back home, and wish him good health, good fortune in his life as a free man. It is with sadness though that his dear mother who I have met during this difficult journey we have travelled with other members of the family passed on in May without seeing her son back home.”
Once again, Nkoana-Mashabane sent the South African government’s condolences to McGown.
Nkoana-Mashabane thanked fellow South Africans, the government and the people of Mali, the Economic Community of West African States, different non-governmental organisations and certain individuals for numerous campaigns advocating for McGown’s release.
“We call on all South Africans to continue to support Steven, while allowing him space and the time he needs in the spirit of Ubuntu to adjust to his environment after years of incarceration,” she said.
McGown was travelling through Mali on a trans-Africa journey when he was one of three tourists abducted by gunmen from a restaurant in Timbuktu.
The attackers shot and killed a fourth tourist, a German, when he refused to climb into their truck.
– African News Agency (ANA)